December 9, 2013

Caffè Lena Open Mic, December 4

A group feature tonight, local poets in the recently published A Slant of Light: Contemporary Women Writers of the Hudson Valley (Codhill Press 2013), Edie Abrams, Mimi Moriarty, Sue Jefts, Judith Prest, Sylvia Barnard, Barbara Ungar & Carol Graser (our host). To set the tone Carol read Susan Griffin's poem "I Like to Think of Harriet Tubman."

But 1st a little of the open mic. Rodney Parrott began with a short poem by A.R. Ammons (did he at one point refer to him affectionately as "Archie"?), then his own slightly longer take on it. Tim Snider got choked up reading his rhyming memoir "Changing Roads." Fiona read 2 short poems with longer introductions, including a new poem on aging & changing. Ellen Finn's short poem was about the Great Mother of us all, she then blended into another poem with images of a blue lotus, 2 intense pieces.

Carol Graser started the featured poet section with her poem from the book, "Laid Off Summer," followed by an old poem, "Vagina," looking for a better word for the marvelous.

Edie Abrams just read her one sexy poem, "Edie's Mikveh," from the book (but returned at the end of the open mic to squeeze in a few more).

Mimi Moriarty's entry in the book is a dream poem, "Interpretation: Three Variations," then "Prayer of the Introvert" & another dream poem "Crying Baby."

Sue Jefts read 3 new poems, "A Tired Day," "August" (eating well), & "Traveling the Lake by Train." I've had A Slant of Light for a number of months, dipping into & out of it frequently, so when Sue read her poem "Returning to Earth (or Rediscovering Neruda," I wondered if she changed the initial of the name of the person in the poem, or was I not paying attention?

Judith Prest began with "Naming the Scar" from the book, then a poem from this Summer "Heron at Dawn." "Wild Woman Closing in on 62 Takes Stock" was just what it said, as was "Poet's Prayer."

Sylvia Barnard's poem in the book, the classical "Helen," had been previously published in Open Mic: the Albany Anthology, as was another poem she read, "Gallows Hill." She also read "Change" from her own collection, Trees, then 2 recent poems "The Seven Cyclists" & "Roman Baths, Bath 2013."

Barbara Ungar's poem from the book, "Hypatia," was also on a theme from classical antiquity. She also read "Geronimo," the anti-war "Ode to a Porcupine" & the chilling "Dead Letters."

After a short break to buy books we were back for the rest of the open mic. Andy Katz likes to rhyme & read a tasty holiday food list in rhyme then the funny story about hiding Xmas presents too well, "The Ghost of Xmas Past." I read just one poem, Enid Dame's classic "Holiday Poem." Effie Redman, perhaps the bravest poet of the open mic, read a poem written in January about snow melting. Jessie Muse likes to recite his poems from memory, but got tangled up in his first attempt, so had to move on to something else, a breathless piece about what is, & why. Barbara Garro was the first person of the night to (attempt to) adjust the mic, although the sound had been just fine all night; she read a tribute to poet Lucille (whom Barbara persisted in calling "Louise") Clifton, then a poem on the arts, "The Gathering."

Jackie Graven was a new voice; she read a poem about her lisp & being a young student, then another poem on her dysfunctional childhood, "Drawing in Paradise." Thérèse Broderick's poem was also a memoir, about her mother's table over time, 1968, 1998 & 2012. Sue Oringel's first poem was a descriptive piece about dessert, a girl & the gooseberry bush in her garden, then another poem "India: Delhi Imagined." Then Edie Abrams returned at the end to read "Under Tree Branches" & a new poem about an old cat dying, one of the grand themes of open mics.

It was a wonderful celebration of an important collection of poems, & the customary diverse open mic crowd. This open mic, with featured poets, happens each 1st Wednesday of every month at the historic Caffé Lena in equally historic, & occasionally hysteric, Saratoga Springs, NY.

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